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CB Council takes another step toward mobile retail

But not in the heart of Elk Ave.

By Mark Reaman

You might soon be able to buy a local t-shirt, hat or hoodie out of a truck in Crested Butte. The Town Council on Monday, May 21 asked the staff to come back to the upcoming June 4 meeting with language adding that option to the town’s vending code. That would accommodate an idea from resident Laci Wright, who hopes to open the truck this summer.

Under her plan, Wright would use a converted 1972 GMC milk truck-style van that would be open from June through the end of September approximately four days a week from noon to 5 p.m.

The town’s current rules allow two mobile retail outlets in the form of a cart or booth to operate on private property in town. Trucks are not included. Wright previously told the council she had seen retail trucks on a recent trip to Hawaii and felt they would reflect the culture of Crested Butte and work well in town.

At Monday’s meeting, the majority of council members agreed to give it a try. Mayor Jim Schmidt was not in favor of the idea, saying his inclination was to stick with the current rules allowing a cart or booth.

The only public comment on the matter came in an email from Jason White of Crested Butte Angler, who argued such trucks would be a detriment to the community scene.

“Crested Butte would lose its charm and uniqueness with trucks selling goods and you would have the appearance of a flea market,” White said. “There is an easy way to become involved in the Crested Butte retail scene—take risk, find a space, and pay rent like the rest of the shops.”

Crested Butte community development director Michael Yerman said he would recommend not allowing a retail truck to locate in a required parking space, saying that having a retail outlet take up additional parking didn’t appear right.

“At the last meeting most of us seemed to like the idea and felt it would work in certain places,” noted councilman Will Dujardin.

“Not allowing it on Elk Avenue is important to me so as not to compete with brick and mortar shops,” said council member Kent Cowherd. “The four things to consider seem to me to be location, size, time and the number of trucks we allow.”

“With the truck versus a cart, the truck seems more convenient and easier to operate out of when the weather rolls in,” noted councilmember Paul Merck.

Schmidt asked if the truck should be limited to being open on private property.

“I am okay with it being located at the Four-way by the Visitors Center with the other carts the town permits there,” said Dujardin.

“I’m comfortable with that too,” added council member Laura Mitchell. “To me it seems like word-smithing the difference between a cart and a truck.”

Wright asked if the council would allow her to set up shop over by Big Mine Park near Mikey’s Pizza.

Parks and recreation director Janna Hansen said the parking lot was generally pretty open in the summer except when special events were held there. “It is up to the council whether to allow vending from public parking places,” she said.

Schmidt summarized that the council would consider allowing retail trucks to be placed under the same rules as retail carts and booths, with a maximum of two permitted at any one time. They would be allowed to be located on private property (only one at a time) with the owner’s permission, at the Four-way Stop at Sixth and Elk, or at Big Mine Park. The truck could be no larger than 20 feet long by eight feet wide and 11 feet tall. Permits would be granted to such trucks between Memorial Day weekend and the end of September.

The council decided to not tweak the current food truck regulations at all until a request is made by someone with a new idea.

The staff will come to the council with a proposed change to the town ordinance at the June 4 council meeting. The council will then decide whether to set the ordinance for a public hearing, most likely at the June 18 meeting. If approved, you could see a roaming retail truck displaying your newest locally designed Crested Butte hoodie for sale.

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